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Tyne and Wear HER(5954): Western Way III (Derwent Way III) - Details

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Western Way III (Derwent Way III)






Post Medieval


Documentary Evidence

The construction of the third Western Way, by Lady Jane Clavering, began in 1728 when negotiations between The Grand Allies and the Western partnership to obtain a monopoly collapsed. The new way probably opened on 24 June 1728 and eventually became amalgamated with the Tanfield Way. The third Western Way turned off to the west from its two predecessors in Burnopfield. It then faced a serious obstacle in the need to lose nearly 500 feet (150 metres) in height in the three quarters of a mile fall to the Derwent crossing. The Busty Bank earthworks were later said to have been the most difficult and expensive so far undertaken, but no documentation of the construction has survived. The run was also expensive to maintain and was rebuilt at least once during its lifetime; the earthworks went out of use in 1800. Western III ran down from Burnopfield to the present girder footbridge across Bryan’s Leap Gill, and crossed there to the bottom of the present Busty Bank by a considerable bridge; there are signs of a “bridge of earth” over a culvert. The way then doubled back across the gill using the present road and still-extant original embankment at the Leap Mill to join the Burnopfield to Rowlands Gill road, which it followed to the Derwent. The river crossing was at Cowford Bridge over a conventional battery, but built over a single arch over the river. The width of the river here means this cannot have been a low arch and the earth embankment on top of it may have reached a height of perhaps 50 or 60 feet above the river, making it a rival to the Causey Arch. Together with the Tanfield Way, Western Way III represented the apogee of the wooden waggonway, built on an altogether different scale to their predecessors. The Western Way III was contested by The Grand Allies, but they lost their case and in 1728 the Western Way was finally established.




<< HER 5954 >> G. Bennett, E. Clavering & A. Rounding, 1990, A Fighting Trade - Rail Transport in Tyne Coal 1600-1800 M.J.T. Lewis, 1970, Early Wooden Wagonways, p 145 and 148 P.M. Sweezy, 1938, Monopoly and Competition in the English Coal Trade, p 25 R.L. Galloway, 1898, Annals of Coal Mining and the Coal Trade, volume 1, p 271 W. Casson, 1801, Plan showing Collieries and Waggonways on the rivers Tyne and Wear, Gateshead Library Local Studies, GPL CAB A1/4 R. L Galloway, 1898, Annals of Coal Mining and the Coal Trade, Vol 1, pp 373-4 A. Williams, 2004, A Fighting Trade - Review and mapping of routes; unpublished document for Tyne & Wear Heritage Environment Record; Alan Williams Archaeology, 2013, Waggonways to the South Bank of the River Tyne and to the River Wear; Turnbull, L, 2012, Railways Before George Stephenson (entry 62) 156, 171; NEIMME, Watson 31/14 and 31/19

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